By Davis, Lance
Nation's Cities Weekly , Vol. 28, No. 14
Regardless of how the U.S. Supreme Court rules in the case of Kelo vs the City of New London, Conn., the case will change how cities use eminent domain for economic development, said a panel of lawyers who assisted the National League of Cities and New London.
Members of the panel said cities could expect to see new definitions of just compensation for landowners, limitations on the use of eminent domain or tighter definitions of what constitutes blight in a community.
The panel spoke to a standing-room-only crowd of city officials during the Congressional City Conference in Washington, D.C., on March 13.
The panelists for the workshop included: S. Ellis Hankins, executive director of the North Carolina League of Municipalities; Joel Cogen, executive director and general counsel of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities: Tim Dowling, chief counsel for the Community Rights Council; and Lora Lucero of the American Planning Association.
For more than 15 years, New London has suffered the loss of more than 1,500 jobs as major industries closed.
After years of planning, public hearings and outreach, city officials approved the construction of a waterfront development project near historic Fort Trumbull.
"At the time the city exercised eminent domain to claim these properties, it was in a severe economic downturn with high unemployment and all the sociopathic issues that go along with it," said Dowling.
"It was also apparent from the evidence that the city was not trying to steal the land from the property owners and that the land was needed for this particular project," Dowling added. …